Former Kingfisher chief and one of the UK’s top brand experts battle it out for Channel 4 chairmanship
Former chief of DIY retailer Kingfisher and one of the UK’s top branding experts are fighting to become Channel 4 chair as question marks remain over the broadcaster’s future.
As first reported by Mark Kleinman for Sky News, Sir Ian Cheshire and Rita Clifton were interviewed for the role by Ofcom earlier this month.
Clifton ran Interbrand and now sits on the boards of John Lewis and Nationwide.
Meanwhile, Cheshire, aside from leading Kingfisher, also chaired Barclays UK and Debenhams.
Industry insiders told Kleinman that both candidates would be deemed “credible appointees”, and are reportedly up against Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the former CBI director-general, in the shortlist.
It is unclear when Ofcom and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will come to a decision about the preferred candidate and it comes against the privatisation rumours that continue to lurk behind the institution.
Last Sunday, a group of senior MPs wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to “leave it [Channel 4] alone”.
The letter, as reported by the Observer, argued: “It [Channel 4] is self-sufficient and successful, making no drain on the public purse. It also plays a vital role in the broadcasting ecosystem, not least in commissioning programmes from more independent production companies, and more small independent production companies, than any other public service broadcaster.”
As it stands, Channel 4 is owned by the state, but editorially independent and funded from ads. However, unlike other broadcasters, it has an obligation to reinvest in new shows and independent firms.